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March 2009

Standards need to improve

Sir,

PAUL SMITH seems to be missing the point when calling for licensing of new entrants as a way of improving standards and customer care.

The standard across the board of UK estate agents is pretty poor. They provide poor customer service, hopeless promotion, a lack of communication and a valuation service that borders on amateur. And these are the people that are going to set the standards for future entrants to the profession?

The register, if it comes about, would not ‘reassure the public of the level of competency of those serving them’. The public has a very poor perception of the estate agency profession for one simple reason.

Estate agents in this country are presently incapable of building a RELATIONSHIP with the customer that goes anything beyond valuation and administration.

The USA’s Realtors understand this principle and this is the minimum standard that needs to be adopted, not just for new entrants but across the profession.

Not enough focus is given to sales training, with the result that most estate agents cannot sell a property, they are simply order takers and administrators. Selling is about changing a client’s perceptions, not just moving onto the next option.

While a licensing system is essential, I foresee many established and big name agencies and their staff becoming registered without improving their current standards (one top ten agency group is currently being sued for misrepresentation) and it is this that will continue to impact on the public perception of this industry.

There are many excellent training companies out there. Let’s use them a lot more and not blame the few rogue agents giving estate agents a bad name.

CHRIS ARNOLD,
Property Options,
Solihull.